Stationery objects

Creating a range of branded stationery isn't always easy. Jason Arber shows you the key steps to perfect paper work.

You've laboured long and hard over a slick new logo for your company, so now what do you do with it? It can be used on your website and for the basis for any signage you may need, but where it's probably going to be seen the most is on your stationery: a crucial component in how your brand is perceived.

Creating a stationery set - which usually comprises designs for a letterhead, compliment slip and business card - is not simply a matter of slapping your logo on a blank sheet of paper. Every aspect should be carefully considered: what kind of printing you should use, how the design complements and expands the brand, even what kind of paper you should use. Left to their own devices, printers will use the cheapest stock they can get away with, but if you want something a little bit special, you need to specify the stock. For someone with little experience of dealing with printers, terminology such as 'gsm' or 'laid' can become confusing. The best thing to do is to get your hands on some paper samples and include a swatch when you send off your print job.

Another major decision is deciding whether to use spot colours or process inks. Process inks - or CMYK - break up colours into combinations of cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Spot colours, such as Pantone inks, are single premixed colours. They can achieve a flatness and richness that's sometimes difficult to achieve with process inks. However, using more than two spot colours can start becoming more expensive than CMYK, so you may want to consider whether the design might work just as well with process inks. Any decent printer will be happy to advise.

But the most crucial aspect of the whole process is the design. In this example, we've created a logo for a fictitious fashion company called Suspect. The brand contains a primary colour, dark pink, and a secondary colour, orange. The custom typeface is modern, minimal and slightly geometric. It's clear that using these basic building blocks, it's possible to extrapolate a design for the stationery.

The font chosen is Avant Garde because it shares some similarities with the custom typeface. Avant Garde is both idiosyncratic and very readable, even at small sizes, and comes in a number of weights, which should come in handy further down the line for setting advertisements, brochures and annual reports. The two colours work very well as a blended gradient, and because they are similar in tone, the gradient is perfect for setting reversed type. Once a job is printed, there's no turning back, so checking plates in Adobe Acrobat Pro is a vital part of the process, especially when dealing with spot colours. There's no greater satisfaction than ripping open a package from the printer, smelling the ink, and admiring your handiwork.

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